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Second Chances

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Photography medium format film
8" x 8"

Connor Doyle

MY MOTHER'S DRUG DEALER SHOT HIMSELF IN THE HEART

TJ Fornet

with a pistol because piercing the pericardium with a bullet is the quickest method of self-extinction.  These are details one learns in medical school.  Dr. D is what we called him, Mom’s drug dealer, since he was her doctor, certified, with easy access to pills & his own pain & surefire way of keeping moms high on a steady supply of opioids. It’s not a choice: wade through fog or jump off a bridge. What if horror was a movie you could mute, would it still terrify?  This is art, my artifice, artifact—a recipe of words designed for immediacy, like a long-necked syringe injected directly into the heart.  It’s also true, as true as any story can be.  There’s so much I haven’t shared & will never share with you.  That’s a lyric misfire in a poem, but it still makes a sound.  When I was seven, Mom walked me to the park & I spun around a pine tree until my hands shredded & I lost grip, tore my knee so badly bone was exposed.  Blood, tears—syrupy insides escaping.  I don’t know what to do, Mom cried, high, paced vicious circles as I bled.  I didn’t mean to fall, I said.  Or did I?  Who, really, knows what to do?  When water drips from eyes, it's the body & mind begging the pain to stop, the voices to stop, the planet to stop shaking.  Not even the firmament is firm.  Mom numbs herself so she can live.  Unstable grace is still grace. Isn’t it?  For years, I spun & fell❘❘❘❘❘ran into trees❘❘❘❘❘threw myself hard to show the world I could carry my own bloody body home.  What is strength, anyway?  Doing whatever it takes?  Faking it?  Saying fuck it, like a hawk slicing through echoes.  The sky is a secret hidden in the hawk’s artery, her red wings cut shapes the storm clouds will never record or remember.  Will any of this—any of us—be remembered?  A bullet can’t restart a heart, art can’t make it right, but if you rest your head on my chest, I’ll tell you the story of the day we met.

TJ Fornet is a queer writer, editor, and neon enthusiast based in New England.

Connor Doyle is a photographer and filmmaker based in the Chicagoland area.  A graduate of Hampshire College’s Film/Photo program, Doyle focuses his work on the idiosyncratic details of daily life in Northern Illinois, specifically his native city, Wheaton, IL.  Though often trivial, his photography subjects capture the formal beauty and potency of everyday sites, urging his viewers to reflect on the significance of their own lived experiences.  Connor’s work has been published in Hole In The Head Review, Burningword Literary Journal, Humana Obscura, and Parliament Literary Journal.